By Denny Weller Special to The Free Press
The Mankato Free Press
---- — MANKATO — Sitting through long innings while your teammates are at bat can often affect the sharpness of a starting pitcher.
Such was the case Saturday afternoon at Franklin Rogers Park as Mankato West junior left-hander Ryan Theissen lost his crispness a bit while the Scarlets were pounding Winona 15-2 in the opening game of a Big Nine Conference doubleheader.
“It was tough to get back into the swing of things with all the long innings,” said Theissen, who improved to 2-0 by limiting the Winhawks to two runs on three hits over 3.2 innings. “Your arm gets a little stiff but (Josh) Cook had my back. I just couldn’t get the ball over the strike zone that last inning.
“As long as I kept my curve ball down and in the strike zone I was alright. It gives me a lot of confidence knowing my teammates have my back.”
West capitalized on six Winhawks’ error to put together a series of long at bats. Senior shortstop Tyler Stoffel scored four runs and drove in another while junior DH Garret Banwart collected two singles and three RBIs. Senior left fielder Isaac Weber and junior catcher Conor Wollenzien had two hits and an RBI apiece for the winners.
Theissen gave up two hits through three frames before four walks along with Nathan Haines’ RBI triple ended his afternoon and brought in Cook. Cook got the final out of the inning on an infield pop-up before working a 1-2-3 game-ending fifth.
“We hit the ball pretty well and also played good defense,” Banwart said. “It was a good first start for me. We have a lot of good pitchers and anyone we put out there will do well.
“We’re confident in our pitching and we’ve been playing well together. We don’t have any one player who really stands out, we can all hit and are all capable of having good games.”
West tallied four times in its first at bat with Weber, Wollenzien and Banwart delivering hits. The Winhawks (0-8) porous defense enabled West to continue to expand its lead as Wollenzien’s RBI single on a 10-pitch at-bat triggered a three-run second frame. Weber then fisted a run-scoring single into shallow left field to put the Scarlets in front 9-0 after three complete.
After the Winhawks tallied two runs in the top of the fourth, the Scarlets erupted for six runs behind three hits — Ryan Schlichte, Steven Nessler and Banwart — to close things out. Weber scored three times the Scarlets while Kevin Marzolf crossed home plate twice.
The Scarlets made it a clean sweep in Game 2 as Schlichte pitched a complete-game three-hitter in a 7-0 shutout. He fanned seven and walked two.
Alex Goettl belted two doubles, scored twice and drove in two runs. Weber was 2 for 3 with two runs and two RBIs and Stoffel was 2 for 3 with a double and two runs scored.
West (6-3 overall, 5-3 in Big Nine) plays at Faribault at 5 p.m. Tuesday.